Maria Angel talks about growing up with a facial birthmark and how the Changing Faces skin camouflage service has helped.
Maria Angel talks about her experiences of living with a facial birthmark and how the Changing Faces skin camouflage service has helped.
Maria was born with a Nevus of Ota, a dark grey birthmark with a bruise-like appearance, over her left cheek and eyelid.
She also has a lesion in the white and iris of her eye, making her left eye darker than her right eye.
"I was born with a rare condition," says Maria from Normandy, Surrey. "I didn't even know the exact name for it until I was in my 20s.
Maria has been using skin camouflage as part of her daily routine to cover her birthmark and increase her confidence since she was 15 years old.
"As I grew up, my birthmark reacted to hormonal changes, which meant it became more noticeable when I was a teenager.
"I was afraid to look people in the eye because my left eye looked so different from my right eye.
"As a result, I feel I wasn't taken seriously and I was easily overlooked and dismissed.
"I felt isolated, and meeting people for the first time was always stressful."
Just before her 16th birthday, Maria went for a skin camouflage consultation – she's been using it ever since.
For a long time, she hoped that the birthmark could be removed. In her 30s and early 40s, she had extensive laser surgery to try to reduce the visibility of the nevus.
"It was very painful, and it was hard for me to accept that it couldn't be removed," she says.
"I've come to terms with that now, and slowly learned to be proud of what I am and not to strive after unrealistic results.
"Living with an unusual appearance is all about how we cope with our feelings and learning to work through other people's negative reactions.
"Since I started using skin camouflage over 30 years ago, the range and depth of pigments that they use in the creams has really improved.
"I don't wear skin camouflage at home, but I do find that I rely on it when I am out in public.
"How I feel without it depends on my mood. I can feel very vulnerable, but sometimes I feel quite extrovert and prepared to face society looking very different from others."
Skin camouflage service
Changing Faces skin camouflage practitioners find the best colour match for each person's skin tone and then teach them how to apply the specialist cover products themselves.
The products are fully waterproof and available on prescription from many GPs. But Changing Faces can't guarantee that your GP will give you a prescription.
Changing Faces run skin camouflage clinics at about 80 locations in England and Scotland. Find a skin camouflage clinic near you.
Their clinics generally run once a month and are delivered by trained practitioners who provide this service on a voluntary basis.
Ask your GP or another health or social care professional for a referral to the service. Or, in some areas, you can refer yourself.
If you're a health or social care professional in England or Scotland, you can refer a patient via the Changing Faces online referral form.
If you need any help with making an online referral or want more information, email the Skin Camouflage Service or call 0300 012 0276.